Free Motion Couching Foot Tutorial

Here's how to modify a free motion quilting foot into a free motion couching foot so you can make beautiful curvy designs on your quilts or quilted projects with beautiful yarns or cords. First, you need an 'echo quilting foot'. This is one of the feet attachments that come with the Janome free motion quilting set. It's a lovely set, that doesn't make a bunch of hopping, clackiness. Next, cut a piece of clear plastic into a circle about 3/4 inch in diameter, just big enough to lie in the flat part of the foot. I used a lid from a Pringles chip can and my Sizzix die cutter to cut a nice smooth circle from it.

Now find a yarn darning needle or something similar and use the heat from a stove burner to carefully heat the needle hot enough to melt a hole slightly larger than 1/16th of an inch in diameter in the center of your plastic circle. Be sure to use pliers or an oven mitt to hold the needle so you don't get burned. The hole may need to be a bit larger depending on your couching fiber of choice and the size of your machine's needle. Try to keep it as small as you can to keep the yarn from escaping being couched down. If you make it too big, you can't make it smaller and will need to try again. Smooth any rough edges with an emery board or fine sandpaper.

I don't have photos of this next step, but you now center the plastic circle onto the foot and glue it in place with super glue. Be careful! The echo quilting foot has crossed lines on it indicating the center so I center the hole right there in the middle. Get it positioned just right before glueing. I didn't the first time and while I was able to pry the plastic off the foot, the superglue turned a bit opaque. If you get it right the first time, it is nearly completely clear!

Now put your fabulous foot on your machine and run the yarn or other fiber across your machine like this:

I made sure that there was plenty of lose yarn between the skein and my machine and kept all curious kids/animals away while stitching. My very first try, I was able to form this feather with the yarn. There were a few missed areas, but those can be stitched again and a feather is probably the most extreme manipulation of the couching fibers so it was a tough test!

Thanks so much to Leslie, for inspiring this hack with her beautiful work!

Now, I need to hit the local yarn shop!


  1. Thank you so much for this (and so far in advance of me needing it)!

    I was just watching an episode of "The Quilt Show" where Ricky Timms used a special Bernina foot to do this. I have a Janome machine but didn't see a foot like his on their accessory list. However, I do have the foot you show and love that I can "hack" my own.

    Look forward to trying this!

  2. I already responded to Vivian above and I am so glad she wasn't a no-reply commenter so I could respond to her directly, but I thought I'd share here the new news for a couching foot for Janome machines:

    "Maybe it’s in the air or something but I was just about to do another post on free motion couching because I bought the NEW Janome Free Motion Couching foot on Wednesday! So if you haven’t hacked your foot yet, you might want to buy the new one. Though I don’t regret hacking my foot in the least. The new foot will accommodate two sizes of yarn, which is handy. I haven’t gotten it out of the package yet, but plan on playing with it tonight or tomorrow. Look for a new post in a few days."

  3. I have been to Janome website and don't see a free motion crouching foot listed - do you happen to have a parts # for it? Mary Ann